Daniel 7:1-28 (Part 2) – Will the United States Be The King Forever?

Posted: June 17, 2016 in 27-Daniel

Daniel 7:1-28 (Part 2)

Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts

Most Americans believe that our reign as the most powerful nation on earth will last forever. By most standards, we a spit of a country when it comes to age. We are only 230 years old as a declared independent nation. We have only been an organized society, however meager those beginnings were, for 495 years (if you count the Plymouth colony as the first successfully sustained European settlement). We did not have our own national military, however meager it beginnings were, until the Revolutionary War in the late 18th century. But, now, in the 21st century, The United States of America is the preeminent world power militarily and economically. Our military is so well-trained and so highly sophisticated, there is no country out there that could stand up against us. Economically, the American economy is the anchor of the world economy. All accomplished in a very short period of history. However, we have not been the world’s dominant power forever either. We have really only been the world’s dominant power since the end of the World War I – World War II time period. After World War II, we were one of the world’s two superpowers that emerged. Before World War I, yes, we were an up and coming nation with great potential, but we were not the great solo power that we see ourselves as now. We were one of many equally capable political players on the world scene. We were among the English, the French, the Germans, the Italians, the Russians. All vying for world supremacy. It was only after World War II was over in 1945 (just 70 short years ago) that the mighty America that we think of now emerged. But to us that have grown up in the post-World War II era, my parents’ generation (born during the World War II years), my generation, my children’s generation and to small kids of this new generation, we have only known the United States as a great military power and as a great economic power. So, there is certainly the idea in our minds that our way of life will last forever. We do not know any different. We complain about first world problems like why my cell phone doesn’t get its normal awesome signal while I am lounging seaside at the beach. But it is likely that our first world complaints may eventually be our own undoing as a nation.

 

However, if history is any teacher at all, we must realize that our time as the chief nation of the world is limited. All the world’s greatest powers have lasted not forever but limited times. The Egyptians were once a great empire. Israel was once a great kingdom. Babylon was once a great kingdom. The Persian empire was once a great empire. The Greeks were once a great empire. The Romans were once a great empire. Islamic empires of the Ottomans and Moors were a great empire during what we call the dark ages after the fall of the western portion of the Roman Empire. Then, there was the emergence of the great nation-states of Europe, each having its brief moment in the sun as the great world power. France, England, Spain and others have each had brief moments of world greatness. During the 1600’s – the 1800’s and the early 1900’s, each of these nations were almost equal in power and thus competed for world domination. It was only after World War II that America rose up as one of two great world powers. And after 1990, when the Soviet Union fell, we emerged as the world’s only superpower. Our time as one of two or as the only superpower has been short and it will be short in relative historical terms. I am not trying to scare anyone here, but it is simply the nature of man. And what destroyed the other world powers was internal strife or internal weakness to the point that they no longer were strong enough to defend their position as the world leader. Look at the Roman Empire, they had become so enamored with their own self-pleasures that they became weak, started defending the kingdom instead of expanding it, political intrigue, and all sorts of internal strife brought Roman down to the point that it was easy prey for the coalition of Goths and others that finally brought down the unified Roman Empire. It was weakened from within to the point that it was easy prey. Sound familiar? We are so enamored with our pursuit of everyone pursuing their own thing, are we likely to fall just the way the Roman empire did? Romans became so pampered of themselves and their pursuit of pleasure that they became weak without realizing it. They no longer had the guts they once had by the fourth century AD. They were focused within while there were barbarians at the gate. All great empires have fallen that way. It will happen to us. Maybe not in our generation or the generation of our children or grandchildren, but our time limit is out there and we are acting just like the Romans. Our time limit is out there. It may happen in the generation of our great grandchildren, but it will happen.

 

That is the thing that I see here from a strictly historical perspective when looking at Daniel’s dream (which has amazing parallel’s to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2). Let us re-read the chapter 7 again today below with focus on who these beasts represent in past history. Tomorrow, I will be off the grid due to traveling home from vacation, but Sunday we will look at some of the conjecture as to the future end times prophecy of who these nations are. Today, we will simply look at what they meant in the immediate present and immediate future of the time in which the book of Daniel was written. That is the thing about biblical prophecy is that it always seems to have an immediate future to it plus a long ranging future to it. Here is Chapter 7 below:

 

 

7 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

 

2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

 

4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.

 

5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’

 

6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.

 

7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

 

8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

 

9 “As I looked,

 

“thrones were set in place,

    and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

His clothing was as white as snow;

    the hair of his head was white like wool.

His throne was flaming with fire,

    and its wheels were all ablaze.

10

A river of fire was flowing,

    coming out from before him.

Thousands upon thousands attended him;

    ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated,

    and the books were opened.

 

11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)

 

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

 

The Interpretation of the Dream

15 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16 I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.

 

“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. 18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

 

19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

 

23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.[b]

 

26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’

 

28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

 

From a strictly historical perspective at the time of Daniel, the dreams of Daniel here in Chapter 7 and of Nebuchadnezzar back in Chapter 2 have these immediate prophetic aspects for Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I have found the following at http://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-7/

 

 

The Chaldean/Babylonian Empire

In Daniel 7:3-4 Daniel records, “And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.”

 

In verse 17 we are told, “Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.” The lion was symbolic of the kingdom of Babylon and the “man’s heart” was that of its most notable king, Nebuchadnezzar, who is written about considerably in the first four chapters of Daniel.

 

As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains, “The lion symbol was characteristic of Babylon, especially in Nebuchadnezzar’s time, when the Ishtar Gate entrance was adorned on either side with a long procession of yellow lions on blue-glazed brick, fashioned in high relief” (1985, Vol. 7, pp. 85-86). The eagle’s wings plucked off the lion were symbolic of Nebuchadnezzar’s time of insanity when he was humbled by God to learn that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17, 34-37).

 

Nebuchadnezzar ruled from Babylon to Asia Minor and from the Caspian Sea to Egypt. Biblically, his most notable conquest was that of the nation of Judah, with Daniel being the most famous captive from that nation. Following his father’s death, Nebuchadnezzar reigned as king of Babylon for 43 years, from 604-561 B.C. (JewishEncyclopedia.com/Nebuchadnezzar). After his death, Babylon continued as a strong empire until 539 B.C., when it was conquered by the second rising power in Daniel’s vision, the Medo-Persian Empire.

 

The Medo-Persian Empire

Daniel 7:5 says, “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’”

 

This beast’s being “raised up on one side” represents the Persians being greater than the Medes in this federated empire. This is made plain to Daniel in a vision two years later when he sees a ram with two horns, one being higher than the other. Daniel is told by the angel Gabriel that the ram represents the kings of Media and Persia (Daniel 8:3, 20).

 

The three ribs that are devoured represent three empires conquered by Persia’s first great king, Cyrus the Great, and his son, Cambyses II. Cyrus came to power in 558 B.C. and conquered the Lydian Empire (Asia Minor) in 546 and the Chaldean Empire (Babylon) in 539; and Cambyses conquered Egypt in 525 (ibid. p. 86).

 

The Medo-Persian Empire lasted for 200 years and, under later kings, expanded to Greece in the west and to India in the east. At one point, the Persian Empire covered parts of three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. But, like the Chaldean Empire, the Persian Empire finally came to an end. A new beast was rising in the west, and its appointed time had come.

 

The Greek Empire

Daniel 7:6 says, “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.”

 

As with the second beast, the third beast is clearly identified by the angel Gabriel. It was Greece, and the “first king” was Alexander the Great. After his untimely death in 323 B.C., his empire was divided into four smaller kingdoms (Daniel 8:21-22).

 

The symbol of the leopard with four wings portrays the swiftness of Alexander’s sudden rise and conquest of the Persian Empire from 334-331 B.C. After his death, several years of struggle ensued that resulted in the division of his empire into four kingdoms. The new kingdoms were (1) Greece and Macedon, (2) Thrace and Asia Minor, (3) Middle East-Asia and (4) Egypt-Palestine.

 

““After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.””The last two were ruled by Seleucus, who began the Seleucid Empire, and Ptolemy, who began the Ptolemaic Empire. These two kingdoms are called the king of North and the king of the South in Daniel 11. Approximately two centuries later, the fourth beast conquered all four of these kingdoms and expanded far beyond the lands conquered by the previous beasts. These two kingdoms—called the king of North and the king of the South and having yet to be determined configurations—will revive and play major roles in end-time prophecies.

The Roman Empire

 

Next in Daniel 7:7 we read, “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”

 

The devouring teeth of iron and the trampling feet correspond with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the fourth kingdom being strong as iron, breaking in pieces and crushing all others (Daniel 2:40-41). When the Roman Empire came to power under the Caesars (44 B.C.) it devoured, broke in pieces and trampled the residue of its enemies with its feet—as was described in Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7.

 

The fourth beast is quite different from the previous beasts, in that it has 10 horns. Daniel 7:24 says, “The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom.” Historically, these revivals began to rise after the fall of Rome in A.D. 476, with the later ones under a new name: the Holy Roman Empire. (For additional information, see “What Is Babylon?”).

 

This fourth beast would continue to be revived off and on for over 1,500 years until the end-time 10th revival. The 10th and final revival will be destroyed by Jesus Christ at His second coming (Daniel 7:26-27). This leads to one other unusual feature of the prophecy of the fourth beast.

The little horn

 

Daniel 7:8 says, “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.”

 

This little horn represents a powerful religious system that would align with the last seven of the 10 political horns that were to arise after the fall of Rome. This coordination between church and state produced what ultimately became known as the Holy Roman Empire.

 

In verses 21-22 and 25, this little horn makes war against the saints, speaks pompous words against God, intends to change times and law, and persecutes the saints for a “time and times and half a time” (literally three and a half years, but using the day-for-a-year principle of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, 1,260 years).

 

Evidence of this persecution can be seen through the centuries, as hundreds and thousands of people in Europe lost their lives through the inquisitions of the Roman Catholic judicial system. They were tortured for confessions of being heretics and killed because they would not submit to the authority and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and the pope.

 

Though the inquisitions of that time were abolished, the Bible indicates religious persecutions from the “little horn” will come back and result in the death of many before the return of Christ. Daniel also saw the conclusion concerning the “little horn”—that when Jesus Christ returns, “the court [judgment] shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever” (verse 26; Revelation 18:2).

 

The Kingdom of God

The vision of Daniel 7 could not end with any greater news: “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (verse 27).

 

This prophecy ends by revealing that Jesus will establish the Kingdom of God on earth and give it to the saints of the Most High.

 

This analysis by lifehopeandtruth.com is one of the best quick synopses that I have read that summarizes Chapter 7 well without leaving out necessary meat but without going into too much detail. It gives the immediate future of the succeeding world powers following Babylon and then gives the broad view of future history ending with the end of time when Christ returns to establish His eternal kingdom at the end of times.

 

The takeaway for today is that all man-made kingdoms are of a limited nature. One day the things that we count on as our reality is coming to an end. Our kingdom of the United States though the shining star of the moment. But it too will fall. We will go the way of all the great kingdoms of the past at some point. What we count on as reality will come to an end. Therefore, we must look to the things that are eternal rather than the things we count on now. Our material goods will not save us. Our first world problems will be minor at some point compared to survival at the hands of whatever kingdom arises after us. Our self-indulgence will give way to simply surviving. Nothing man-made last forever. The only thing that lasts forever is Jesus Christ. May we reconsider what we think is important and place our faith and trust in the only thing that lasts forever, the one who will judge all temporary things, Jesus Christ.

 

Amen and Amen.

 

PS>Next blog we will consider some of the modern-day prophetic musings about what in our modern day these four beasts represent.

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